In October 2020, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) replaced Universal Analytics (UA). But not all users transitioned to GA4. If you haven’t, here’s something you need to know: Google recently announced that it will stop collecting UA user data, starting in July 2023. Hence, Google recommends adopting GA4 for all new projects.
Are you wondering what Google Analytics 4 is about? Curious about whether these updates will help you achieve your SEO goals? If so, this post is for you.
Today, we’ll share:
- An overview of Google Analytics 4
- A Google Analytics update: What’s up with universal analytics?
- How does Google Analytics 4 work?
- Why Google Analytics 4 can help SEOs in their daily work
Let ‘s get started.
A Quick Look at Google Analytics 4
To create a successful website, the first thing you need is data. You need to understand who your users are, how they get to you, and how they interact with your platform. That’s what Google Analytics 4 is perfect for.
Google Analytics lets you track and measure traffic and user behavior on your website for free. Plus, it creates customized reports for each user’s journey.
Specifically, GA4 is useful to:
- Obtain user data
- Analyze your pages’ current performance
- Gather actionable insights
- Improve your on-site SEO strategy
At the end of the day, using data effectively is about examining the whys and wherefores of trends and developing lead-generation strategies accordingly.
GA4 should help you to optimize your website, not just to record and analyze incidents.
Google Analytics Update: What’s new?
Remember the App+Web property? In late 2020, it was renamed as “Google Analytics 4” and adopted as the preferred way to track your on-site performance.
GA4 replaced the nearly obsolete Universal Analytics and allowed users to get a richer perspective on how visitors interacted with their website. Since then, Google has stepped up its game by staying on top of how businesses use the internet to grow. The search giant has crafted solutions for e-commerce, cloud-based operations, and streaming services alike.
So, what’s new in Google Analytics 4? Today, GA4 is positioned as a new generation tool that offers:
- User behavior predictions powered by AI
- Better integration with Google Ads
- Features to measure traffic across devices and platforms
- Reduced reliance on cookies
- Metrics centered around customers and events (interactions)
- Personalized reporting structures
- Privacy-focused design
If you continue using Universal Analytics, Google recommends adding a Google Analytics 4 attribute to your settings so you can collect data from both tools.
However, while using both tools at the same time is still possible, Google recently announced that Universal Analytics will stop collecting data in July 2023. Moreover, the same will happen with their Universal Analytics 360 properties in October 2023. Accordingly, processed data will be retained for less than six months after these versions are sunsetted.
Given the Google Analytics 4 release, Universal Analytics has definitely ended for Google. Mainly, because it was made for desktop sites, which limited its usefulness for cross-platform data collection. Besides, based on what we know so far, it’s safe to say that we’ll see a new Google Analytics 4 update by 2023.
So what is GA4’s purpose and how does it work? We’ll dig deeper in the next section.
How Does Google Analytics 4 Work?
Instead of only reacting to past events, Google Analytics is planning for what comes next. That’s why it’s been uniquely designed to focus more on users, transforming their interactions into “events” and showing their journey more clearly.
Of course, as it collects a lot of data, how you use GA4 will depend on your needs. This is why reports are presented in multiple ways, including:
- Snapshot reports
- Real-time reports
- LifeCycle reports
Let’s take a closer look at each one of them
Snapshot Reports: All Reports at a Glance
The first page you’ll see after logging into Google Analytics 4 is the reporting snapshot.
There, you’ll see:
- Traffic volume
By using the snapshot, you can evaluate whether your campaigns, pages, and traffic sources are running smoothly, or if you need to take action.
Real-Time Report: Stay On Top of your Performance
The real-time report displays your website’s traffic activity during the past 30 minutes. Additionally, it runs up to five comparisons to show you how each segment performed.
Moreover, the Real-Time report lets you see what is known as the “user snapshot”. Basically, it goes through each of the events that a user participated in during a specific journey. For instance, it shows what content they interacted with most.
If you’re just launching a new site and you’d like to analyze it quickly, real-time reporting can help you get an idea of how users are interacting with it, understand where they’re coming from, and see what they do.
Life Cycle Reports: Conversion Funnel Entry & Behavior
Life cycle reports can be extremely useful for SEO. They provide detailed information about a user’s activity on your site, including everything from when it was the last time the user engaged, to what traffic sources provide the most value.
Just like a traditional conversion funnel, the lifecycle report is broken down into the following reports:
- Acquisition Report
- Interaction Report
- Conversion Report
- Retention Report
Acquisition Report: How Users Come To Your Site
How do users interact with your site? How do Google Ads campaigns impact traffic? The acquisition report tells you how users get to your site and how they’re coming back.
Google Analytics 4 divides them into two categories:
- User Acquisition, which covers the interaction of new users with the website.
- Traffic Acquisition, which covers interaction in sessions (both new and returning users)
Engagement Report: How Users Interact With Your Site
GA4’s engagement reports give you an overview of what your users are doing on your site. They measure:
- The average time users are active on your site
- How many users scroll through 90% of the web page
- Event and conversion tracking
Monetization Report: How User Actions Lead to Your Success
Some on-site actions are more impactful than others, these are usually conversions.
In GA4, goals are measured by conversion events, which are compiled into conversion reports.
These reports include:
- Events identified by name
- Total number of conversions for those events
- Total number of users
- The revenue generated by each event
Having the capacity to quantify conversions from specific events will let you get more precise and scalable results.
Retention Report: How Often the User Returns to Your Site After the First Visit
With retention reports, you can see how often and for how long returning users interact with your site. Additionally, you can check the value of a user by looking at how much revenue they generate after their first visit. This is one of those features that make GA4 an exceptional tool for e-commerce.
Explore: More than Standard Reports
A properly configured analytics center is a marketer’s best friend. The goal here is to take a closer look at customer behavior by exploring different dimensions of the data. For instance, with GA4 you can analyze the flow of user events or group users as you see fit and analyze their average behavior.
You can also:
- Work with ad hoc queries
- Refactor and sort data
- Constitute segments and audiences
- Export data for use in other platforms
You can do that and more on GA4’s Explore tab.
How SEO Specialists Can Benefit from Google Analytics 4
Now you know what Google Analytics is and what it can do. But you may still be wondering: Why is it useful for SEO?
Google Analytics 4 can:
- Provide relevant insights on traffic-generating channels
- Help you detect your traffic-generating content
- Help you see where your traffic is coming from
- Help you understand what your peak hours are
- Provide complementary data that will allow you to make the most out of Google Search Console
To attract more users, it’s vital to analyze the channels that bring the most traffic. By harnessing that information, you can either choose to double down on your most successful channels or redistribute your efforts to your least performing channels.
All in all, GA4 provides you with strategic insight into which channels your users are coming from.
Good SEO relies on a quality content strategy. Yet, how can you tell if it’s working and generating leads? With GA4, you can detect what content pieces generate the most organic traffic.
As an example, landing pages are crucial to gaining leads on a website. If you optimize them properly, you’ll obtain qualified traffic and grow your audience without increasing your bounce rates. On GA4, you can design tracking criteria so you can measure the effectiveness of your content.
Where Your Audience Comes From, and When They Visit
Knowing the location of your most loyal customers is fundamental for an effective digital strategy. GA4 lets you know where your users are coming from, giving you a better idea of who you’re actually targeting, and helping you detect untapped opportunities in foreign markets.
Knowing when your users are online is also very valuable. Not only can it help you create targeted experiences for them, but you can also set a maintenance schedule that doesn’t interfere with your marketing goals. If only a small handful of users are online at a certain time on a certain day, that’s when you should update your CMS or promote new features to production. GA4 also provides you with this type of data.
Both of these traits (location and time of day) are linked. For example, if you’re getting a high volume of visitors from the MENA region, they won’t be online during LA working hours.
Google Search Console Integration
Last but not least, you can link Google Analytics with Google Search Console.
Google Search Console (GSC) is perhaps one of the most useful SEO tools available – and it’s absolutely free.
Integrating GSC with GA4 will allow you to get a full picture of your organic traffic and how your website is helping you engage your users or preventing you from engaging them in an impactful way.
Go One Step Further: Track Every Change to Your Website With SEORadar
In this post, you learned about the new Google Analytics 4 update and how it can help you achieve your SEO goals. But Google Analytics, as good as it is now, is still a work in progress. New updates are sure to come in 2023.
Although these new benefits are indeed appealing, they won’t serve much if they’re not accompanied by a comprehensive SEO strategy.
Are you planning to use GA4 to optimize your site? Make sure that the changes you make don’t hurt your SEO efforts. SEORadar will keep an eye on your code so you don’t have to.
SEORadar monitors your website’s code and instantly notifies you of any changes that may affect your rankings. Plus, SEORadar works best when integrated with Google Analytics. Used by some of the largest online platforms in the world, SEORadar is your best ally for technical SEO at any scale.